From the 16th century, the naked "Indian" wearing a feather headdress appeared in European iconography. Artists could base their works on the several Aboriginal people brought back by the explorers to be shown as curiosities at court and for entertainment in shows. The image of Aboriginal peoples formed by Europeans was largely the conception of artists who had never been to America. The European attitude was divided between the image of a "noble savage," virtuous and pure, and that of a barbarian in need of civilizing.

The "Imaginary Indian"
Le Grand Sacrifice des Canadiens Quitchi-Manitou ou le Grand Esprit [The Great Sacrifice of the Canadians to Quitchi-Manitou or the Great Spirit], engraving after Bernard Picart, 1723
CA ANC Peter Winkworth Collection R9266-2413